Monday, July 31, 2017

Nature Unfolds Timeless Truths

One of my absolute favorite psalms is 104. I enjoy how the psalmist takes us on a walk through nature and reveals the wisdom of God. Of all the verses here, the one I find myself returning to the most is verse 19 which says, the sun knows when to set.

In my mind, I can see the sun high in the sky pondering which way to go to set. It never gets off course or forgets which way it's going. My vivid imagination runs with this scripture as I can see the sun sitting up there scratching its head asking, now, which way was I going?  And even though this always brings a chuckle, it's amazing that the sun rises and sets every single day without confusion. This just demonstrates to me the constancy of God.

As I was meditating on this truth, I also thought about the birds I see dancing around in my back yard every day. They chirp, play, fight over a breadcrumb and seem to "enjoy" it back there. But what they don't know is that as long as they are singing they are declaring the glory of God along with sun that never loses its way.

Jesus explained to the disciples that His Father's eyes were on those little sparrows. He knows when one of these seemingly worthless little birds falls to the ground. And He went on to say that we are worth much more than a whole flock of sparrows. If He knows and follows those little birds so closely, how much more closely, more intimately is He acquainted with all our ways?

As we look at nature and how meticulously He designed it, how fervently He watches over it and how carefully He organized it, can we not see how much more intimate, fervent, and careful He is over our lives? We look at His majesty displayed in creation, and we can forget that deep, intimate connection He chose to have with us.

If He watches over nature so closely, don't you think He watches over us more so? He sees a sparrow that falls and He also sees our countenance when it falls. He sees when we are up, down or indifferent to life itself. The gentle and not-so-gentle fluctuations in our emotions do not go unnoticed by Him. He is right there with us.

Today, I'm going to turn my thoughts to how carefully He watches over us. My meditations will be on how intimately He chose to be acquainted with me, and my ways. I'll think about how He is here, never abandons, never quits but keeps walking out this difficult road with me. He measures every step and takes each one with me. He can't walk it for me - but He chooses to walk it with me. I'll rest in that and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Under the Magnifying Glass

As usual, I woke up this morning with lots on my mind. I know it comes from having too many irons in the fire. Is there any other way to do this thing? Sometimes we need to give ourselves a break - caregiving isn't easy. It takes a lot out of us to provide everything another whole person needs every day, even in the "best" situations.

I have been thinking about relationships a lot lately. For caregivers, the burden can be the lack of them. Sometimes the aloneness can be unbearable, but I think we eventually adjust. One way I have dealt with it is to overload myself with work. But the pain tends to seep back in from time to time.

Many times for caregivers things can be 10 times more painful. Emotions are magnified under the glass of caregiving. Caregiving can act like a huge magnifying glass causing us to sense emotions stronger, longer and more sharply it seems. Everything tends to hurt more, or at least more deeply.

My thoughts were on the emotional toll caregiving can take on us, and the impact it can have. I wondered if God had a magnifying glass too. So I took a moment to look at the life of a caregiver through His magnifying glass (assuming He has one).  Psalm 138:2 says You have magnified Your word according to all Your name. (NASB)

Now, my thoughts have turned to Him. The Word tells us we have grace for our situation. (My grace is sufficient for you.) It also tells us that there is nothing we cannot handle and there is always a way of escape. As I meditated on this I prayed, Lord, magnify Your grace in my life. Magnify Your provision. Let me see Your hand at work instead of the difficulties that are trying to loom.

It can be difficult, but we have to look at what He's doing in spite of our situation - instead of our circumstances. This psalm has several things to "magnify" with our thinking. Let's turn our focus on what He has done for us and what He continues to do with and for us and let those be magnified rather than the situations and emotions we are dealing with. Just in this Psalm we find these thoughts to put under the magnifying glass:

  • I called - He answered (v.3)
  • He makes us bold with strength in our souls (v.3)
  • Even though He is exalted - He regards the lowly (He thinks about US!) (v.6)
  • He revives us when we walk through trouble (v.7)
  • His right hand will save me (v.7) Maybe not out of the situation but in it!
  • He will accomplish what concerns me (v.8)
The psalm ends with a prayer, Lord, do not forget the work of Your hands. To me this is a good reminder that we are the work of His hands. He may not ride in on a white horse like a knight in shining armor and whisk us away out of the struggle, but He will put bold strength inside us. He will regard us, think about us, have a heart toward us. He may not take us out of the trouble (v.7) but He will revive us in and through it. 

He did not change His mind about us when we became a caregiver. His grace is still sufficient. His love still abounds. We are still His. Oh Lord, may these truths be magnified in our souls today!

Today, I'll continue thinking on these things. In particular, my meditations will be on verse 3 - He makes us bold with strength in my soul. I like that. I'll add to these meditations Ephesians 3:16 which says I am strengthened by His Spirit living inside me. I'm ready to take on the day! My thoughts will be on how He lives inside me - and hasn't packed and moved yet! I think He plans on staying. And with that - I'll take on a new day. I'll let His grace be magnified in me today. Will you join me?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

How's Your Memory?

In my personal study time, I've been reading through Judges. It started with a look back at the story of Gideon. He was hiding from the Midianites. My personal opinion is that it wasn't so much out of fear as it was an attitude of you can't have our wheat anymore!

When the angel appeared to him, he addressed Gideon as a mighty man of valor. Gideon didn't accept or deny that assessment. He went right into what was on his heart. His cry was if God is with us - then why did all this happen? Boy, have I asked that a few times. But the truth was that God was with them even as they faced difficult days. The trouble was - they kept forgetting.

As I continued to read Judges, I noticed that they kept forgetting Him. Over and over it says, the sons of Israel did not remember the Lord their God. Now, of course, we understand they remembered He was there. They just failed to acknowledge Him in their daily lives, and through their actions.

I'll be the first to admit I've been angry with God because of my situation. And you wouldn't have to look far to find actions that haven't quite lined up with His righteous standard. But I do always make my way back to the cross - back to His heart. I have a good memory.

There's not a day that I don't recall how He's walked this journey with me. Even though He can't walk it for me. I have seen Him provide what was needed. That includes everything from food to furniture, from peace to patience, and from friends to finances and the list goes on....and on.

It's really quite amazing, maybe I'll write a book about it some day. His provision, protection and patience for me has been quite amazing. I look at how He delivered Israel over and over through the book of Judges and yet they kept forgetting Him - and I wonder how? It is my goal to not only keep Him in the forefront of my thoughts - but to become better acquainted with Him and His ways each day.

Today, I will take a mental trip and purposefully think about how He has walked this out with me. I'll take time to thank Him for His continued presence in my life - even when I didn't deserve it and acted a fool. God has been the only constant for me on this journey and today I'll remember and be thankful. Will you join me?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Lions, Bears and Giants! Oh My!

I know I've been MIA for a couple weeks. You are very much aware of the busy-ness of caregiving so I won't even try to explain. Even though I've been somewhat on overload, it's been good. Or at least I want to think so.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've thought a lot about David and how he killed Goliath. There were several pieces of the story that got my attention. Like, for instance, the fact that he picked up 5 stones on the way to take Goliath down. No one really knows why, he may have been familiar with his own weakness and thought it might take more than one shot! lol

I've also heard it said that he picked up 5 stones because Goliath had 4 brothers and David was preparing to take them out as well. Who knows, the Bible just says he picked up 5 stones on his way out to face the giant. And what he had was enough.

The other thing that captured my thoughts was that David didn't feel unprepared to meet the giant, although he'd never met one. He had, however, killed lions and bears when they tried to attack his sheep. Maybe he was a caregiver at heart too. That thought makes me smile. You know David watched over his sheep and took good care of them. He didn't blink twice when bears or lions came after them - he protected the sheep at all cost.

And now we see him facing Goliath for the same reason. He was protecting what was God's. When no one thought David could take on the giant, he told them and King Saul - When a lion or  a bear came and took a lamb from the flock I went out after him and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him down and killed him.  Then he went on to say he knew since he'd killed lions and bears - he could take on the giant too.

He didn't just wake up one morning and think he'd like to go beat up on a giant. It was somewhat sequential. David first killed the lion and the bear. He took out these smaller things and gained the confidence to face the giant that day. Our battles today prepare us to face the battles of tomorrow.

You know how difficult it was when we first started caregiving? Some things don't ever get any easier - but we learn how to handle things along the way. We learn which words to use to get action from the medical community when we need it. We learn who to call to get supplies, or who to call to see heads roll when necessary. We learn as we go. The more we learn - the less we are afraid of. It's the same way spiritually, I think.

For caregivers, every day is a giant killing day because the task of caregiving lies before us. But we know we can face this day - because we faced yesterday and survived. My prayer from the beginning was that I would not become hard-hearted, but that I would let caregiving make me more sensitive to the voice of God. I wanted to be "pressed by life" and have a beautiful fragrance come out. Sort of like how when David faced Goliath - the warrior part of him came out. But it was because he felt the need to protect, like we do. I have to admit that it's not always been a beautiful fragrance that got squeezed out of me by caregiving. Sometimes, it's been downright ugly. But ultimately for me - and most likely for you - you met the warrior inside.

Now think about this. When we become so pressed by life, caregiving included, we'll see the same passion in God that we saw in David. David fought lions, bears and giants because he was passionately protecting his sheep and God's people. God is just as passionate about protecting us as David was about protecting his sheep.  When the giants begin to rise up, so does God's passion. I imagine He says, Not this time.

Today, I'm going to meditate on how my yesterdays have prepared me to face today. My thoughts will be on how the Lord pours His strength into me so I can face any giant in my way. And I'll particularly think about that passion in David to protect - is the same passion in God. I'll think about how He protects me just like David cared for the sheep. I'll be thinking about how God takes care of me - while I take care of my loved one. And I'll just rest in that right there - and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Today is the Day!


Today is a double or nothing day, sort of. I have the great honor and privilege of having my mom stay for a few days. She wanted to come see me so my dad brought her down yesterday. She's a glorious 77 years old - but she'll tell you she can't possibly be "that old." While I am enjoying her stay greatly it means I have double caregiving duty.

I feel like I have a 150 pound infant (my son) and a 77 year old toddler to care for. lol Between the two of them, dementia and TBI, I have my hands more than full. and that is no understatement.

Besides taking care of these two beautiful children of God, I also have my work load and house work to keep up with... again my plate is full. That is in NO way a complaint, only a statement of fact.

So as I arose early this morning after being up late finishing up a small project for a client, I let out a sigh and my mind went straight to 2 Corinthians 12:9. Paul was crying out to God about the situations he was facing and God gave him a very specific answer, and Paul wrote down what God said, "My grace is sufficient for you."  So I figured that today is the day where I will walk out what God told Paul all those years ago.

I'm thinking God said He is the same - when? Yesterday, today and forever...so today is the day His grace is sufficient for me too.

God continues with - for power is perfected in weakness. His power is perfected in my weakness. Today is the day - that His power will come to maturity in the midst of my weakness. Paul goes on to say he will boast in his weakness because he knows God's power is going to be demonstrated in and through it.

Psalm 29 is my favorite pslam (today) and the first and last verses lead me to believe that we and God can make a strength exchange. Today is the day! I'll trade Him my strength (what little there is of it) and He trades me His. He gets the short end of the stick and I get the power to go on!

Today - is the day - where I lean totally on Him and rely completely on His strength and not on my own. Today is the day His strength is perfected in me. Today is the day I realize His grace is truly sufficient for me. Today is that day.... so I will rest in Him - and let HIs grace carry me through today - will you join me?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I'm a Juggler!

As I grabbed my coffee and settled in for a little reading and to get started on this devotion this morning, my head ran away with me. I was sorting out some finances, figuring out when I'd go to the store, coming up with a backup plan in case the aide doesn't show (which seems to be the case many times when I actually plan something), meal planning, arranging my work load for the day, and trying to figure out if I had time for both my errands and a quick run....it was a run away.

After a few minutes, I realized my brain was going a hundred miles an hour, my first cup of coffee was almost gone and I still had no idea what I was going to write. I thought, "Man, I got a million thoughts going through my head a million things to do to match 'em!" Then, I chuckled to myself and thought, "I'm a juggler!" While that sounded funny to me, I realized as caregivers, we really do have a lot of things to juggle in a day. Sometimes, I step back and wonder how we do it - how I do it; but mostly, I just roll up my sleeves and dive in the busy-ness. Just like you.

In all the busy-ness of caregiving, it's so important to stop from time to time. You know, stop and breathe. Sometimes, I stop and think of all His blessings. Actually, I've done that a lot lately as I just passed the 7 year mark. It was 7 years ago on July 1 when I brought my son home. He'd been in several facilities and I was terrified to bring him home and provide care for him. I would literally get sick to my stomach every time I had to transfer him because I was so terrified I'd hurt him. I can laugh now, but the fear was so real.

In the times of reflection, I see how blessed we've been. And I am thankful. I had no home to bring him to, and nothing to put in it but his equipment. But oh, how God blessed and people gave. Now I need to get rid of a bunch of stuff... for real. Just a small shift in my thinking, and my mind is relieved.

It doesn't take but a second to go from crazy all-over-the-place thoughts to complete peace and thankfulness. It's a small shift of focus really. And it feels so good. Instead of focusing on all the stuff I need to get done today, I can focus on what He's done for me. A pen and paper can control the to-do list, while I meditate on the He-done-it list!

With very little effort now my mind is going almost as fast thinking about the journey God has brought us on and how He has provided, and continues to provide all along the way. My thoughts are now running with how I know Him as Jehovah Jireh, my provider. If I understand that term right it literally means the "many breasted one" meaning He has more than enough.

Today, I'm shifting my focus from my to-do list, to His done-did list! I'm going to meditate on His provision for me - physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally, because He provides for the whole being not just part of us. I'm going to think about how He is a complete God - and provides peace, comfort, sustenance for my soul. As my thoughts lean themselves to that concept - of Him providing for my whole being, not just my physical needs, I'm going to keep that as my meditation for today. He provides for all of me. I can trust Him. And with that I will rest in Him and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

True Freedom

Today is "Independence Day" and so I was thinking about freedom and what that really means. Many caregivers have given up "freedoms" to care for loved ones. We can't quite go as we used to, and may not have the social life others enjoy. At times, for me, it has been quite restricting. I've felt like I was imprisoned a time or two.

Even though our circumstances are all different, caregiving means we are not our own. Even if we can plan trips and outings, it's much more complicated than just booking a room and a flight. In my situation I was out and about, working three jobs on my way to Africa when my life was jerked out from under me. I went from having total freedom to being alone in a small apartment with a nonverbal son with no interactions with others for days at a time. I felt like life handed me a prison sentence and there was no way of escape and no hope for parole for good behavior. Not that I had good behavior anyway. (smile)

Eventually, I realized my situation didn't dictate my level of freedom. I recall BC (before caregiving) being inside a prison for ministry. One of the prisoners had written a song about being free even though his body was held inside prison walls. It was a very moving song and it touched my heart, but I didn't really get it at the time. Now I understand at least in part.

Our freedom in Christ is not influenced by our circumstances. Galatians 5 talks about being free in Him and walking in the freedom of the Spirit. Now when He makes us free - we are free. No matter what our circumstances, we are free to choose whether we will walk in the spirit or the flesh. We are still in charge of our spirit man and our choices will bear fruit. We will either bear the "fruit" of the flesh, or the fruit of the Spirit reigning in our lives. Period.

We don't get an "exempt" card from living holy just because we are a caregiver. We still have to put our focus on Him and trust Him with our souls. And He will meet us there every.single.time. It's amazing to me that I can get all bundled up in nervous thoughts, anxiety, and frustration, but as soon as I turn to Him His peace can reign. It has happened over and over. I always have the freedom to choose to come to Him with my cares and concerns, joys and sorrows, hurts and healing.....I have found Him to be right there every time. My freedom is in Him - not in what I do, how I live or my situation - to be free means to be hidden in Him.

Today, I will be thinking about being free in Him. I'll turn my thoughts to how He has been there every single time I've run to Him. My meditations will once again be on His unchangeableness...His constant love, constant care and constant presence in my life. I'll take time to acknowledge that today. And I'll take time to thank Him for just being there. My intent for today - is to run to Him and stay there, and trust Him for today. Will you join me?

Monday, July 3, 2017

But if Not

This morning, my Bible fell open to the Psalms and I began to read down through Psalm 15 and 16. As I was reading, a few things stuck out to me. The psalmist starts out in Psalm 16 with the declaration: I take refuge in  You.  He declares that God is Lord and there is "no good" besides Him. The rest of the psalm he continues blessing God and realizing many of the ways God has been a blessing to him.

Sometimes it's just about shifting our focus off of what's going on around us, in us, or even to us - and getting it back on Him. Life can be so distracting at times. For me - I've been on overload for a few weeks, hence my absence, but I'm working my way back to focusing on Him and not on all the craziness of caregiving.

As I read through Psalm 16 this morning there were several things that popped out to me. Things that the psalmist said that reminded me of having "no good besides You." Like:


  • the Lord is my inheritance (v.5)
  • He is my "cup of blessing"
  • He guards what is mine
  • He guides me (v.7)
  • At night - He instructs me
  • He is always with me (v.8)
  • He is beside me - so I won't be shaken
  • He shows me the way of life (v11)
  • He grants me the joy of His presence
I thought about these things for awhile - long enough to do what David did - encourage myself in the Lord. It was funny how just a slight shift of focus can bring refreshing and relief. Now to stay there!

As I was reading, I thought about how easily distracted I can be. It's not difficult for the caregiver as life itself can be a distraction. Right? While meditating - getting back on track - I thought - I'm not bowing to this life. I won't give in to the distraction. And then, the three Hebrew children popped into my head. Remember when they were being forced to bow down to another god - and they refused? I feel like that today.

The world, life and even caregiving itself can play its own music to try and draw us away and make our thoughts follow different streams. But today, like the three facing a literal fiery furnace - my heart says - But if not.

That's what they told the king. They said - Our God  is able  to deliver us - but if not we still will not bow to your gods. That's how I feel today - God could sweep down like a knight in shining armor and sweep down to rescue us. But if not -  I still won't bow down to worship the way of this world or the gods of this world.

Today I am shifting my focus back to Him. I will declare He is my refuge! I choose to bow down to His lordship and kingship in my life and will not let my circumstances be my taskmaster. My thoughts today will be on how He is my refuge - He is the "good" in my life... I will look no further. My meditations will be on His ever abiding presence and how He chooses to walk this piece of time with me. I'll praise Him for guarding my heart, for instructing my heart - and for never leaving my heart. And with that - I choose to rest in Him for one more day. Will you join me?